Differences Between Custom and Generic Home Finishes

If you are shopping for an item and searching solely for the cheapest price, there is no doubt that you will be able to find some excellent deals if you look long enough. There are opportunity costs to choosing a generic item with a budget price however as opposed to having a custom item made and installed instead. As is often the case with home improvement projects every situation is unique and there are no “one size fits all” solutions. Sometimes you just need something basic that will fill a need, and other times it would be better to go the custom route. We will cover some of the main differences between custom-built home finishes (e.g. a bathroom vanity designed and crafted by a carpenter) and more generic ones like you might find in a big box store.

Freedom of Choice for Each Component

Continuing with our bathroom vanity example, there is a really obvious difference between custom and generic ones that we’ll cover first. If you haven’t guessed it already… the custom vanity route allows you to customize every aspect of your new bathroom centerpiece whereas the one from the box store comes preassembled with no freedom of choice. You could probably swap out the door hardware easily but if you preferred a different style of sink or countertop it wouldn’t work out that well. Not to mention it would likely void any warranty the vanity came with if you modify anything.

If you start from scratch with a vision and hone the design with our team as you go, you get to choose every aspect of your new cabinet. The species of the wood, how thick (durable), what the base will look like, any designs/detailing, countertop material, cabinet hardware (hinges and pulls), style/color of sink, faucet style and location, paint/stain color, etc. All of these will be under your control. For some people that is overwhelming and they would prefer to just choose a nice, prefabricated vanity. But some other people demand unique items that reflect their personality and their every taste!

Truly Custom Fit and Options

Box store vanity units have to come in some preset sizes and options that sell the best. There is only so much store and warehouse floor space in which to keep them and it would be impossible to build too many types and options in a factory environment. While economies of scale such as this will always lead to a cheaper cost, they sacrifice the custom nature and fits that are key signs of a well done, cohesive construction project.

When shopping online for your bathroom vanity you may see they come in sizes of six inch increments, all have the same three material options for the countertop, and use the same hardware no matter which cabinet you look at. Going the custom route allows for a custom measurement and fit of your existing space (or a new one if you are performing a more substantial bathroom remodel). There won’t be any awkward bumping into the door trim or funky rocking because the floor isn’t level.

The customization goes a lot deeper than sizing as well. You can literally choose the exact slab of granite or quartz or marble that will then be fabricated into your countertop. Not to mention if you want a backsplash or accessory pieces that match your countertop, that is all on the table. You can pick those pieces out too! After speaking with a designer about how you use your current bathroom storage and what you would like to see improved, we will make sure your new vanity has the shelf and drawer layout/functionality that best suits your life. That is an experience that you will not be able to find shopping generic items and one that will last you for as long as you live there.

Skill Level of Construction and Installation

One of the main things that will influence your enjoyment of your home remodel is who you are working with and how good they are at what they do. Do you want to work with a skilled craftsman who is building and installing your vanity cabinet from start to finish? And in R. L. Rider’s case, when you talk through the project with our designer who then makes 3D drawings for you – you get to see him construct the cabinet in addition. It is a process we truly handle from start to finish, concept to completion.

You will not get the same joy out of ordering a vanity online or going to pick one up in store. The product was likely sourced from many different countries to locate the cheapest components, assembled by a low-wage worker, and then shipped overseas to the U.S. Somebody still needs to get the cabinet set and the sink connected to your plumbing once you get it to your house. Usually the box stores use local subcontractors who don’t have as strict of standards for quality and training. Maybe they are used to working in empty flip homes or apartments instead of nice houses with families in them. They may not have the experience, people skills, classes, and tools to be successful which will just add aggravation to your project. Or you can attempt to install it yourself which is great if you’re handy, but can turn into a DIY nightmare if you’re not.

Longevity and Warranty

If you are putting any amount of money into a specific product or even an entire room renovation, you are going to want it to last for a long time. Not just last, but function properly each and every day. The old adage “you get what you pay for” almost always holds true in the construction industry. There is simply no substitute for using better base materials and techniques to build and install when it comes to ensuring a product will last a long time. No tricks will be able to cover up the flimsiness of a thin, cheap piece of lumber as opposed to a solid, ¾” or thicker piece of cabinet-grade wood.

And if something goes wrong with your new vanity that you ordered online, how long is the warranty period and how many hoops do you have to jump through to get it taken care of? A local, custom contractor like R. L. Rider Remodeling offers a 2-year, hassle-free warranty on all parts and labor – we make it right quickly and with no stress or hoops to jump through. If you have had any bad warranty experiences before, know you are not alone. You have to find the number, sit through lots of calls and transfers, register your product, take photos, figure out how to ship it back, pay for return shipping, the list can drive a sane person crazy! Who knows how long a poorly made product will last… we stand behind ours for years and are we work locally so our reputation depends on your satisfaction.

Function or Form? Why Not Both?

Choosing between basic functionality and beautiful design usually results in having to give up one for the other. If you have the discretionary budget and are not simply trying to repair or replace an item for pure functional use, why not invest in something that has a story and that means something to you?

Knowing that you are buying the best quality and supporting local business and craftsmen is something that adds character to your project. Your investment will result in better functionality that is designed and engineered from the start especially for you. If you choose to have us build the cabinet out of wood from a barn that has been on your property for years, then you will have a story to tell that is completely unique to you. You will have a piece of art that no one else can copy instead of a vanity kit from Home Depot that every house in your subdivision has. Obviously this isn’t for the rental property you have across town, but if you are planning on improving your home and want to experience something new, this is one way to enjoy your house for decades to come.

Which Experience is Right for You?

While we used the example of a bathroom vanity for our discussion on home finishes, the above points will apply to nearly any item you would put in your home that has custom and generic options. It also is meant to highlight some of the factors you might want to think about when considering a home remodeling project. What is right for you and your family? Is lowest initial cost the most important thing or overall quality and longevity? What kind of experience are you looking for? As mentioned, everybody and every project is unique so you need to choose based on your specific circumstances. If you have any questions or wish to discuss your project and see if R. L. Rider Remodeling is the best fit for your job then please call us at 517-487-3713 and we will be happy to help you!